Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Winter Gardening

It's been many years since we were in Washington for the winter.  So I'm not really sure what should be happening with gardens.  I assumed they were just dormant and could wait for my spring return.  However, I discovered all the daffodils and tulips and iris that I had planted by the new house were about 4 or 5 inches out of the ground and winter hasn't really even started yet.  
Usually by the time we get home in April the daffodils and tulips are done blooming, so I haven't even bothered to plant them in recent years.  But it really doesn't seem like they should be out of the ground in December, and maybe I planted them too shallow.  So before the real cold hits, I decided to give them some mulch.
Fortunately, we still have a big pile of mulch from when the power company cleared lines in the area and dumped it in our material pile.  So I moved several bucket loads to the area I had planted bulbs a couple of months ago.
It'll be interesting to see if I actually have daffodils and tulips to bloom in the spring.  My last venture with winter bulbs left me with a plague of fat moles, but these are closer to the house, so I may have better luck.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Making Ribble Soup

My mother was always a wizard at making a hearty delicious meal out of what she could find in the fridge - even at the end of the month in the middle of the wilderness.  One of my all time favorite things she made is a simple hearty winter time soup that uses very few ingredients.

Basic Recipe:  A couple of peeled and diced potatoes (about 2 cups)
                       One onion - diced
                        A few Stalks of celery diced
                        1/4 cup butter
Melt the butter and saute the onion celery and potatoes until the onions are softened.  Add salt and pepper and a a cup of water and simmer while making the ribbles.

Ribbles:         1 1/2 cups of flour
                       1 teaspoon salt
                       2 eggs

Mix until the mixture is crumbly - leaving some chunks about 1/2" to an inch in size.

                      One cup milk - add to potatoes onions and celery and 
heat to boiling.

                      Pour the ribbles into the soup and stir to separate.  The larger chunks will be like homemade noodles and the balance of flour will thicken the soup.  Add milk until desired consistency, and salt and pepper to taste.  One time I added a pint of oysters and it made the best oyster stew I have ever tasted.  Sounds simple, but definitely a family favorite.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Walk in the Woods

There are trails throughout the woods on our property near Granite Falls.  

Today while the sun shone and melted most of the overnight frost, I decided to hike my one mile course through the woods.  
Most of the Maple and Alder trees finished shedding leaves in last week's wind storm. Several types of ferns now show off their bright green leaves.

I found this pretty coral mushroom along the trail.  Most coral mushrooms are edible,  but I left this one to grow as it wasn't big enough for a meal.

This is a perfect example of a nurse log. Obviously a large tree fell here at some point and all these treese used it as a place to sprout and grow.
 I think this tree has been adopted by woodpeckers.  We always leave at least one snag per acre for them.
If you're looking for a weekend getaway on a quiet private lake, check out our log house on airbnb.com

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Starting a New Business

When we finished building our new home, we called for a final inspection.  The only item that the inspector called out said "Blower Door Test" required.  We asked what that was and where we should go to get it done.  The inspector just said "you might try calling your heating contractor or the insulation contractor."  So we pulled out the invoices from those companies and started calling. Neither did the test, so I headed to the internet.  Most of what I found there was advertisements for equipment.  We did finally find a company based in Renton that agreed to come out to do our test.  

However, during our research, we took several classes that explained the test and the equipment. More investigation showed that the requirement for the test is fairly recent - the standard was imposed by the federal government, to be adopted by the states and jurisdictions within the states.  Washington State adopted the code in 2012, and Snohomish County enacted their requirement on July 1, 2014 - just days before we applied for our building permit.  Permits filed prior to July 1 do not require the test.  

Long story short, we realized that our experience fit well with this test.  So we bit the bullet and bought the equipment and began forming our new company to exclusively do blower door tests.  We have successfully learned the equipment and done several tests of our home and homes belonging to family members.  While the equipment and set up of the new business took a healthy chunk out of our savings, we look forward to building a successful business.

It is very interesting to see just how airtight current construction is compared to older buildings.  Our new house has approximately four air exchanges per hour, while our older log house has 17.4.  We knew it was hard to heat the log house in the winter, but we had no idea just how much air movement took place through gaps in the logs, ceilings and walls, older windows, and older doors.  It has given us a bunch of new projects for that house!

Our website:  blowerdoortesters.com went live this week. Everything is in place for us to begin taking orders. Please check out our website and feel free to forward any questions to us at:  ronandrosi@msn.com.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Home Again

It's been a long time since we experienced fall in Washington State, and we are discovering what we've been missing!
The lawn is growing and everything around the house is emerald green!
The falling leaves cover all the trails with a soft carpet.
The fallen leaves come in a beautiful array of yellow, gold, red, magenta and brown.
Even when the sun isn't shining, the yellow Maple leaves give the illusion of sunshine.
Mushrooms everywhere,
Some, like these Chantrelles, wonderfully edible!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Walter F. George Dam on the Chattahootchie River

The dam on the Chattahoochie River at Ft Gaines was built in the 1950's immediately after President Eisenhower announced that no more federal dams would be built.  Then senator Walter F. George petitioned the president and the dam was commissioned.
The dam forms the impound lake of Lake Walter F. George, as it is known on the Georgia side of the lake and by the Corps of Engineers who maintain and monitor the dam and waterways associated with it.  On the Alabama side of the lake, the lake is a well known premiere bass fishing lake, and goes by its more common name of Lake Eufaula.  Tournaments are held many weekends during the Spring, Summer, and Fall months, and much of the recreation around the lake is centered on bass fishing.
Below the dam, the Chattahoochie River continues to where it joins the Flint River, and another dam impounds water for Lake Seminole.  As the water leaves that dam, it becomes the Appalachicola River, which continues to the Gulf of Mexico at Appalachicola, Florida (famous for oysters)!

See our other blog for information about our Georgia house, with lake front on Lake Eufaula that is for sale.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Another Cross Country Trip

Since we started driving from one end of the USA to the other a couple of times a year about 20 years ago, we have always enjoyed the trip.  People say "why don't you fly?" and I suppose that's a valid question, considering the distance.  But people to to Disneyland and Disney World to go on rides that simulate some experience and our trip across the country is much like a Disneyworld ride - showcasing the differences in terrain, weather, even how people talk.  So we are still enjoying the ride!
Some of the most beautiful views are as we cross Washington State and go through the Tumwater Canyon, where you can see evidence of last year's fires, but lots of new growth and beautiful autumn colors.
 Through Eastern Washington and it's amber waves of grain, with burned off areas from this year's fires in places, but surprisingly, most buildings still standing....
Past the Great Grand Coulee Dam and on into Idaho....
 Where we went by beautiful Lake Couer d'alene.  Saw lots of antelope in Montana, lots of sunflowers, corn and soy beans in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.
 One of the big cities we passed was St Louis, MO, with it's famous arch.
 More fields of soybeans and corn and more windmills.  Lovely weather all the way through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Back in the land of low gas prices in Alabama, and back to our evening sunsets in Georgia.
So it's with mixed emotions that we prepare the Georgia house for sale.  Information on the house at our blog about the Georgia property.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Labor Day with Family

As we worked on the house this summer, we sadly neglected our family.  So with the house mostly done, we had a family gathering on Labor Day.
The older girls worked on puzzles, the middle kids built a fort in the woods, and the younger girls and I went for a walk to the garden.
In spite of neglect, we found corn that we ate fresh off the stalk, apples, beans, grapes, and some great big pumpkins.
We decided it was warm enough to swim, so Alaina, Virginia and I went back to the house and got suits.  Only the three of us were brave enough to jump in.  It was really cold!
While Alaina perfected her dive, other family members watched from the dock.  It really was sunny and warm after a week or so of cool weather, rain, and clouds.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Countertop Install

Precision Countertops came out on 8/10/2015 and did a very precise layout of our cupboards in the kitchen, laundry room, and all three bathrooms.
While most of the work was done in their shop in Kent, the two installers had to piece the parts together and carefully seal all seams.  
They did a fantastic job!

If we had a working sink, we would be moved in already!  Waiting for final plumbing - should be this week! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Almost There!

Kind of hard to see, but there is a new slab in front of the garage doors!  No more sand tracked in!
Graafstra brothers are here to do the final grade!
Which involves several loads of topsoil.
Meanwhile, Wayne is setting the last vanity to be ready for the countertop template people, who will be here this morning to measure and template for the granite.
and Ron is putting shelves in the entry closet.  We have two more closets to set up - and they are the biggest, so one more big job.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Beginning the Finish Work

Begin hardwood flooring!
Finish hardwood!  
Begin cabinet install...
Base cabinets are in.
Meanwhile, Ron and I begin the last big tile job:  master bath shower and tub surround.  Starting with "red guard".
Tile floors sealed and finished!
We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!